Published : Tuesday, 25 August, 2015 11:33 AM

On Monday afternoon, students of MICA were treated to some insightful and inspiring ideas from the world of news and publishing. The third lecture of the current term brought to MICA by the student-run MICA Lecture Series (MLS), featured Mr. Shantanu Bhanja, Chief Digital Officer of HT Media Group, providing insights to the students on the theme of Digital content and publishing trends in the country.

MICA Lecture Series

In the lecture that lasted for over one and a half hours, Mr. Bhanja touched upon a variety of topics ranging from the decline of print publishing, to Digital Advertising and the importance of harnessing mobile phones and videos to generate engaging content for consumers. Speaking about the recent paradigm shift in the way HT Media perceives its role, Mr. Bhanja stressed upon the need to think of themselves as a “mobile-first and social-first before digital-first” publisher.

MICA Lecture Series

In a light-hearted and at the same time informative talk, Mr. Bhanja gave the students precious insights into how digital media works. “Today, you don’t go to the news. The news comes to you. Opinions are forming in real-time from people you choose to trust. By 2023, more than 25% of all spends will be on digital platforms. With India reaching the point of inflexion of smart phones during the last 3 quarters, it has become a truly mobile-internet economy.”

MICA Lecture Series

Speaking about the immense opportunity digital space provides to advertisers and publishers alike, Mr. Bhaja said, “Males over the age of 35 have traditionally formed the bastion of our consumer base. However, in the case of digital channels, over 75% of the users are under 35. With targeting done by e-commerce companies, more women have begun to consume digital content.  This opens up a whole new mass of audience we didn’t have access to before.”

MICA Lecture Series

According to Mr. Bhanja, “Even though there has been tremendous growth in revenue made in the digital space, most of it goes to social networking and entertainment sites, while advertising revenues from digital spends by news publishers are declining. On the mobile screen, there isn’t enough space for advertisements. Standard advertising may not work here. The only way for digital publishers to maximize profit is to provide engaging content.”

Mr. Bhanja emphasized the immense opportunity offered by video content and e-commerce. “Companies pay upto 5% more for videos than for static content. With people on average viewing 32 videos online per month, any content producer has to think of creating and monetizing great video content. Another significant driver of net growth is e-commerce. With increasing broadband penetration, we can tap into millions of customers in middle-sized towns in India. However, there is hardly any digital content in local languages in India. This is an avenue that will need to be addressed soon.”

With opportunities opening up, there is also an increase in competition. “Of late, there has been an astounding number of uninstalls of apps. With a very limited ‘real-estate’ on the phone, multiple apps struggle for the same space. This makes it necessary to create apps that provide engaging content and stay relevant to the customer. The power of data makes this possible. Each interaction you are making online creates a trace and with more engagement, you build your persona online. They do monetize you as a person, but by providing relevant content, they make you experience the world around you in a more relevant way.”

MICA Lecture Series

Answering questions asked by the students about the significance of User Generated Content, Mr. Bhanja acknowledged that it is very important to verify the accuracy of such content before publishing them, as people trust news publishers to provide quality information. In response to another question comparing print and television news to digital, Mr. Bhanja said, “Television and print publishing and advertising will never die. The medium is ultimately the message. Digital publishing will grow, but it cannot completely replace traditional media.”

About MICA

Established in 1991, MICA is the first residential institute in the country and perhaps in the Asia-Pacific region, dedicated to creating Leadership in Strategic Marketing and Communication.

Its spirit lies in its grasping of contemporariness, addressing the needs of an ever-changing environment. The MICA brand assures effective delivery of Strategic Marketing and Communication solutions to the industry, government and community.

Today, it is the alma mater of professionals serving in leadership positions in some of the best known companies in India and the world, in marketing, brand management, research & analytics, advertising, media, digital and other strategic marketing and communication-driven businesses.

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